THE Federal Capital Territory Chapter of the Campaign for Workers and Democratic Rights (CDWR) has thrown its weight behind striking teachers under the employment of the six Area Councils of the FCT who are currently on an indefinite strike over the non-payment of their promotion arrears since 2015 up to now.
According to Comrade Stephen Knabayi, the Chairperson of the FCT Council of the Nigerian Union of Teachers, the promotion arrears for teachers in the six area councils is about N14.3 billion from 2015 till date.
In a statement by Comrade Omole Ibukun, its FCT Coordinator, the CDWR said while welcoming the decision of the primary school teachers of the NUT in FCT-Abuja to embark on an indefinite strike over their unpaid promotion arrears, also enjoined the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the mother union, the national headquarters of NUT, vigorously mobilise in support of the striking teachers and the cause of proper funding of education.
It will be recalled that the teachers along with their secondary school counterpart first went on an indefinite strike last November but the FCT wing of the Executive Council of the NUT called of the strike after a limited concession by FCT authorities which largely affected only secondary school teachers without any concrete commitment to the primary school teachers.
Although the primary school teachers’ strike lingered after their secondary school counterparts resumed work, they (primary school teachers) however also suspended the strike in December following an agreement with the area councils.
The resumption of the strike, CDWR said in its statement, resulted from “the failure of the Council Chairmen across the FCT to fulfil the initial commitment made with the primary school teachers” in December 2021.
“This is the height of insensitivity and irresponsibility by the Area Councils and the FCT Ministry. CDWR condemns this and calls on the teachers, who are protesting the non-implementation of promotion arrears from 2014 to 2018 and its 2020 and 2021 annual increments as well as the refusal to upgrade qualified teachers, to step up the struggle to get their deserved entitlements. This should include congresses across the NUT in the area councils and schools, leaflets and press statements to make sure students and parents are carried along in the struggle and protests to put pressure on the FCTA.
“The fact is that the authorities of the area councils and the FCT ministry are not taking the demands of the striking teachers seriously because their top functionaries do not have children in the public primary schools. We believe there’s no better time to press home these demands radically than this moment when the FCTA elections are coming up and some of these irresponsible political representatives will be seeking re-election.
“We call on the Nigeria Labour Congress and pro-masses organisations as well as associations of parents to actively support the struggle and demands of the striking teachers and prevail on the Area Council chairmen and the Minister of FCT to immediately meet their legitimate demands. This support is also important so that the children of working class people and the poor who are the majority in public primary schools are not denied access to education.
“We also call on the NUT and NLC to fight for, in addition to the demand on the welfare of public school teachers, both at primary and secondary schools, adequate funding and democratic management of schools including the provision of necessary facilities. This is in order to guarantee decent working conditions and the provision of quality public education. This is the only way to ensure quality education is not priced out of the reach of children from the working class and poor background,” the CDWR said.